Pork can be good if rechanneled for health. Abolish the pork barrel system and chop the floating Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to hire more health workers. According to civil society network, ABI Health Cluster, for starters, an additional 5 billion pesos can get hundreds of doctors to doctorless municipalities.
“Sixty percent of Filipinos die without ever seeing a health professional. Kulang na kulang ang mga health workers, ‘yun pala nilulustay lang ang pera. At least isang midwife man lang or nurse sa bawat barangay,” said Dr. Benjamin “Jun” Bernardino, spokesperson of ABI Health Cluster and Secretary-General of Life Haven, Inc., an organization working on the fulfillment of the rights of persons with disability, and pushing for independent living. Currently, some midwives oversee 3 villages, which result into 1 or 2 days per barangay instead of full week service. “Public funds that could have saved lives have been stolen, as such we support the call for the prosecution of everyone accountable.”
“Wala ng lusot! Hindi na pwede ang sagot na kulang o walang pera,” continued Doc Jun, “What we want is our ‘SANA’ to transform to ‘DAPAT at SAPAT’ na badyet para sa Kalusugang Pangkalahatan.” The ABI Health Cluster proposed for a minimum additional PhP9,140,371,113.00, which includes funds for health human resource.
“Although the Department of Health (DOH) budget increased, what’s actually missing in the equation is substantive financing for health human resource (HHR), a building block of universal health care: deploying adequate and skilled health workers and professionals with decent wages that will run health facilities and provide appropriate and on-time services to the people,” stated ANG NARS partylist representative Leah Paquiz. “Yet the increase is still not commensurate to the decades of neglect, and is not responsive to the minimum annual inflation rate and population increase.”
The 2014 DOH Budget at PhP80,171,300,000 is a 45.5% (about PhP30-billion) increase from 2013. The bulk of the health funds are allocated for health facilities.
The ABI Health Cluster further argues that the government practice of false volunteerism, such as RN Heals, which it seeks amongst health professionals, and with the export of the most skilled health professionals to serve in other countries, the health sector will continue to suffer a serious internal hemorrhage of health human resource.
Another vulnerable sector, youth and children, echoes the demands on having adequate budget for health human resource.
“Marami sa amin ay nakakaranas ng malnutrisyon, nagkakasakit, maagang nabubuntis, at ‘di nakakapagtapos ng pag-aaral. Kulang na kulang na nga ang pera para sa kabataan, magkukulang pa rin ba sa mga magagaling at mahuhusay na adolescent health workers, doctor, midwife, at nars na syang kakalinga sa amin?” Thalea Manacho remarked, a 16-year old member of Children and Youth Organization (CYO) in Caloocan City. “Ganito ba ang kinabukasang hinuhubog ng ating mga mambabatas para sa aming mga kabataan? Para sa bayan?”
ABI Health Cluster supports the call for the abolishment of all pork barrel funds, prosecution of all those accountable, and have the public funds go to basic social services for the people.
For the 2014 DOH Budget, the ABI Health Cluster demands for a huge investment in the deployment of health workers for effective health service delivery specifically on:
§ Stepping up HHR deployment: increasing Doctors to the Barrio (DTTB) from 140 to 1,000; doubling deployment of midwives, dentists, Pinoy MD scholars and MSPD; formalizing employment arrangements of existing RNHeals (22,500) and deployment of additional 10,000 trainees; including HHR insurance and trainings.
§ Creation of National HHR Registry
§ Improvement and Strengthening of HHR Monitoring and Evaluation
These increases have the following budget proposal specifications:
A member of the Alternative Budget Initiative led by Social Watch Philippines, the ABI Health Cluster is composed of sixty-three organizations, and has been pushing for additional resources for health and health policy reform since 2006.
The ABI Health Cluster members are:
1. Access Health International
2. Action for Economic Reforms
3. Action for Health Initiatives (ACHIEVE) Inc.
4. Active Youth Movement
5. Alay Kay Maria Healthcare Foundation
6. Alliance of Progressive Labor
7. Alt*Health Foundation
8. Ang Kapakanan ng Kabataan ating Protektahan (AKKAP)
9. Ang NARS
10. Ayos na Gamot sa Abot Kayang Presyo (AGAP) Coalition
11. Babae Plus
12. Center for Emergency Aid & Rehabilitation Inc. (CONCERN)
13. Child Protection Unit Network (CPU-NET)
14. ChildFund Philippines
15. Childhope Asia
16. Children and Youth Organization (CYO)
17. Coalition for Health Advocacy and Transparency (CHAT)
18. Coalition of Ormoc Women
19. Coalition of Services of the Elderly, Inc. (COSE)
20. Confederation of Older Persons Association of the Philippines (COPAP)
21. Damayan ng mga Mamamayang Pilipinong Api (DAMPA)
22. Earth Savers Movement
23. Family Planning Organization of the Philippines
24. Health Care Without Harm
25. Health Integrated Development & Services (HIDS)
27. Hope for the Youth Foundation
28. Kababaihan Pilipinas
30. Kampanya Para sa Makataong Pamumuhay
31. Kasarian-Kalayaan (SARILAYA)
32. katalingban para sa kalabuan
33. Katipunan ng mga Mamamayan ng Bagong Lipunan, Inc.
34. Kilos Damit
35. KSFI KATUNGODHAN SAMARENA
36. Labor Education and Research Network (LEARN)
37. LifeHaven, Inc.
38. Medical Action Group (MAG)
39. MGA GAWA
40. National Anti-Poverty Commission (FCAP)
41. Network for Transformative Social Protection in Asia (NTSP)
42. Open Heart Foundation
43. Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK)
44. Peer Educators Movement for Empowerment of Pasay, Manila, Caloocan, and Quezon City (Peer Ed PAMACQ)
45. Philippine Coalition on the U.N. Convention On The Rights OF Persons with Disabilities
46. Philippine Federation for Natural Family Planning (PFNFP-FILTAO)
47. Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development
48. Philippine Society of Sexual and Reproductive Health Nurses (PSORHN)
49. Piglas Kababaihan
50. Plan International
51. Psoriasis Philippines
52. Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK)
53. Rural Development Institute-Leyte
54. Saganang Buhay sa Liga ng Bayan (SBSB)
55. Samahan ng mga Mamamayan ng Zone One Tondo Organization (SM-ZOTO)
56. Kasarian-Kalayaan, Inc. (SARILAYA)
57. Save the Children
58. Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa
59. Tahanang Walang Hagdan
60. University of the Philippines Gender Office
61. WomanHealth Philippines
62. World Vision Development Foundation, Inc.
63. Youth Meets the Children Organization